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The first text message was sent in 1992. Nearly a quarter century later, SMS messaging dominates communication in the digital age. But a text isn’t always the right way to communicate, even if it is the easiest.

On your mom’s birthday, for example, you’re still supposed to send a card. Email is the bare minimum level of formality required for a “thank you” note after a job interview.

But what is the right way to communicate with different customers in different situations – and how are you supposed to know the difference? Communication has to be a priority for every business, but one size definitely does not fit all.

Making Customer Communication Your Number One Priority

 CRM Software: Beyond Email Lists

So many businesses invest in powerful customer relationship management (CRM) software, but then use it exclusively to build, populate and maintain their email database. But these businesses are missing out on so much of the functionality they paid for.

CRM software can track and report on the method of communication specific customers are most likely to use when contacting you. If a specific customer reaches out to you through email most frequently, that is probably that customer’s preferred method. If someone DMs you on Twitter, that customer is likely to be a younger millennial, and is therefore, probably the wrong person to call on the phone. Why, you ask?

Millennials Hate Talking on the Phone

As described in the article “Get to Know Your Customers’ Communication Preferences,” the old-school phone call provides a level of formality, intimacy and accuracy in perceived tone that can only be rivaled by a face-to-face discussion.

Phone calls are direct, clear and personal – and young millennials want absolutely nothing to do with them.

Business Insider reports that millennials who are young enough to have lived their whole lives in the era of email and texting overwhelming display an aversion to talking on the phone. Your CRM reporting should include demographics. Unless you have a reason to do otherwise, avoid calling your younger customers.

Social Media: Follow the Customer’s Lead

The enigma of communicating with customers through social media isn’t really much of a mystery at all. If customers @mention you, message you directly, reply or pursue one of your hashtags – no matter what the channel – respond in kind and respond right away. But don’t presume that your customers – even the ones with active Facebook or Twitter accounts – want to be messaged as the primary form of communication, or that they will even receive the message at all.

For so many marketers and business owners, email is the center of the communication world. But, although email can be effective and efficient, communication has to be personalized to the individual customer. Good CRM software makes this level of personalization possible. But it is up to you to pick up costumer signals through everything from their age to the way that they contact you most often.

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